Highland Council proposes cutting working week to save money
Highland Council is proposing to close at lunchtime on Fridays in order to balance the budget
Highland Council has put forward a proposal to balance the budget by cutting the authority’s working week.
Service management teams have been developing proposals over recent months against a target of six per cent savings in year’s budget.
One of the suggestions is to change the normal working pattern of the council by half a day, closing at lunchtime on Fridays.
The council said that most staff would still work their existing contracted hours, but would do so over 4.5 days instead of five, although if some people wanted to reduce their contracted hours, the option could be available on a voluntary basis “where practical”.
It is suggested the adjustment to working hours could generate significant savings on facilities costs, including heat, light and power.
Chief executive Steve Barron, who has written to staff about the idea, said: “It is important that to note that this is currently a proposal only; one which needs further work and which would only be implemented with the agreement of elected members in February.
“Clearly there will be some service areas where this could pose practical difficulties, hence the wish to consult and to think carefully about impact and feasibility.”
Budget leader Councillor Bill Fernie said: “It is our priority to maintain services and jobs in Highland and as such, this is part of a package of proposed measures, with the aim of setting a balanced budget, whilst protecting key services.”
Highland Council has said it expects to face a funding gap of over £21m in its 2016/17 budget, which it will set in February.
Members of the council’s citizens’ panel will be asked to take part in a survey on a range of savings proposals later this week.
This latest suggestion follows a controversial proposal last year to cut the school day for Primary 4-7 pupils across the region by 30 minutes a day, which was postponed after opposition from parents.
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